Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Great endings…

My topic today is great endings, as opposed to happy endings, which I’m pretty sure are something dirty. (We’ll probably get a bunch of unexpected hits today, because I wrote happy endings.)

Not that I’m against endings which happen to be happy. All the books I’ve written to date have happy endings, hopeful endings if not entirely settled endings, and my two drunk writer cohorts both write in the romance genre, books which all have happily-ever-after endings. So I don’t want to talk about whether to make endings happy… I’m more interested in what makes endings great.

I’m just finishing revisions on a manuscript, trying to get it off to my agent so she’s got something else to sell. Problem is, I’m not feeling really confident about my ending and it’s got me thinking about endings in general.

I thought I’d consult my Vogler to see what he has to say on returning with the elixir and all that jazz, but for some reason I couldn’t find it today, and I think I only wanted to read it to get permission, to get some justification to end my book where I want to end it, where I always want to end my books, just as soon as everything’s resolved. (And adding to my lack of great-ending-confidence, an editor who was very interested in my last manuscript, but ultimately couldn't offer, told me she thought that book ended abruptly. It did. But I liked it that way.)

Based on all this, I know many (most?) readers like more ending than I do. They like something to come after the climax/resolution. Something that increases their confidence that everything turned out all right. They want to know the protagonist was still okay, even after coming down from the adrenaline high of surviving the climax. Not only do they want the protagonist to come down, the readers want time to calm down and absorb. This all makes sense to me. I know I need to push my stories just a bit past where I want to stop writing. I think my problem is that I know the characters will be okay... so after everything's resolved, it's just not interesting to me, anymore...

So, I’m ending challenged. Frequent DWT commenter Kimber, asked some time ago whether we’d do blog on epilogues. So, while this topic might please Kimber somewhat, it may also disappoint her. Why? Because I’m not sure I have an opinion on epilogues, per se. I think, like most things, it depends on the story. (And we've already established I'm confused about endings in general.)

I do think epilogues can tend toward the cliché. For example, a wedding scene at the end of a romance, or a scene with the couple and their kids a few years later. Now, full disclosure, I’ve written scenes like that… but I guess those epilogues in a romance have become cliché because they've been written so many times, and they've been written so many times because they work, because they’re satisfying to readers.

But I fear I've drifted off topic. I wanted to talk about what's driving me nuts right now... Here I go. It's my ending. My ending is boring and I think it probably tells rather than shows. Also, in the current draft, it includes an "insight" I ended up putting earlier in the book, and I do think it works better where it’s ended up, so to avoid redundancy, my ending will not only be boring and badly written it will also be insightless (if that were a word).

This weekend, I came up with a new final scene idea (not written yet) to let my protagonist return with her elixir. But, what is this planned scene I'm thinking of tacking on? Get ready for it, it’s a wedding scene. It does, however, have a twist… Not the protagonist's wedding, someone elses -- but still I feel it might be too corny and cliché.

How about you? Once the conflict’s resolved and the protagonist has demonstrated they’ve changed… Do you want more? Do you want the story wrapped up in a pretty bow? What makes a great ending for you? Help me. Please.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Taking A Break

That's right -- I'm taking a break. I'm not doing any writing. In fact, everytime I sit down to read over my mms on hard copy I actually fall asleep (which is sort of disconcerting but I'm ignoring that). My son and I are going to very pretentious and rowdy play groups, we're even going swimming. I had planned on taking a break right after Mick was born, but it didn't work out that way and since I am so ridiculously ahead of schedule and so ridiculously burnt out -- I'm taking a break now. For my sanity. For my writing.

Of course what I feared would happen if I took a break is actually happening -- inertia. But right now, that's okay. It's nice to have a quiet brain for a while instead of constantly rehashing plot points. It's nice not to be reading and rereading what I've written and feeling that terrible roller coaster of "this is great!" "this is the worst thing ever written, ever." It's nice to not be writing.

Because, actually all that craft stuff I learned this year -- all the McKee gems and various other pearls of wisom I've gleaned from Virginia Kantra and Jenny Cruise and Diana Peterfruend, they are actually sinking in.

I have this terrible tendency to go to workshops sick and tired of my current mss. And when the very smart person giving the workshop actually makes my brain flicker in a sudden lightbulb moment I sit there and think "oh god. If I actually do this really smart thing that will make my book better it means I will have to do some work. Some real work. I'll have to rewrite the entire first scene/chapter/kiss/act/black moment/ending." And then, of course, being me. I don't do it. I think -- I'll do it next time and because I'm working so fast and not being smart at all I don't even remember it by the time next time rolls around.

So, right now I'm reading some old notes and the brain is still flickering and I'm taking the time to really figure out what some of these craft gems have to do with my writing. I am taking the time to internalize the stuff I think will make me better. I'm using a little forthought and planning in the hopes that this burn out and frantic chasing my own tail will stop.

I'm sure in two weeks I'll be here saying -- oh my lord! WHy did I stop writing -- I've fallen and I can't get up. But I'll deal with that in two weeks.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


Been thinking lately about choices, and what they mean.

I think 99% of us wanting to be published aren’t going to get the publishing angels to present us with a 6 figure contract, a huge initial print run and all the publisher promotion dollars we could ask for.

I figure we have three possibilities.

1) With a combination of luck, talent and perserverance, we might get offered a contract by a major NY publisher. Which, don’t get me wrong, would be fantastic, but it’s not all roses and chocolate.
Chances are the initial print run would be small, small depends, but anywhere from 5000 copies to 20,000, (my guess, if I’m wrong, sorry), probably no publicity budget and 8% royalties on sales.

2) With a combination of luck, talent and perserverance, we might get offered a contract by an E-Publisher. This is nothing to sneeze at either. E-Publishers offer much, much higher royalty rates, easy access to books and are seeing dramatic increases in their readership.

3) We could continue to submit and continue waiting. Not as much fun as the other two, but more likely…

I’ve been thinking about my choices, because a couple of things hit my radar recently. As Molly mentioned in her blog, our friend and critique partner Theresa who’s E-Pubb’d was trying to get her recently print published books(by her E-Publisher) into a local bookstore for an upcoming book signing.
This is not the first time this issue has been raised. A couple of other E-Pubb’d and small print pubb’d members of our local RWA chapter have tried to do the same with varying success rates.

I would love to see Theresa sit at that booksigning, my fingers are crossed that this will happen.
But, one of the drawbacks of choosing an E-Publisher is not having the distribution networks in place that the major publishers have. This is, hopefully, offset by the higher royalty rates.
I’m not sure how important a booksigning is for most of you, but I’ve known of writers beating their heads against the wall because they can’t get a print copy of their book into their local bookstore to show family and friends.
A woman on one of my loops, went so far as to get angry with her local bookstore, the manager and their head office. The manager of that bookstore has since decided not to hold another booksigning because of that incident. Because of one author’s frustration, other authors, whose books are available can’t have booksignings there.
This seems ridiculous to me. Surely this woman knew when signing with an E-publisher that getting her books into these stores would be difficult, or even impossible. Didn’t she understand the pros and cons before signing a publishing contract?
The other thing this woman forgot is once we sign a publishing contract, we’re no longer bookstore customers.
They’re our customer. We want bookstores to stock our books, hand sell one more copy, talk about the lovely local author who comes in to visit every once in a while.

That woman, who is E-Pubb’d, but shall remain nameless, pissed her local bookstore off so much, that if she did accept a print contract one day, they’d probably go out of their way to shelve her books in with manuals on automotive repair.
But it was important enough for her to get that booksigning that she just didn’t care and I’m not sure I fully understand why.

For me the key is being published, getting a contract, an editor who loves my work. The rest very much less so, and to be honest the idea of sitting at a booksigning makes me shudder.

I’m curious. Is it important to other people to see their book in print, or is it enough knowing a reputable publisher loved it enough to offer a contract?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Living or Dead…Get in Print!

Great news drunk writer readers! Kim Howe has made it to the final four in the American Title III Contest. This is especially exciting for us, because our critique partner Michèle Ann Young made it to the final four last year. We all have our fingers crossed for Kim. And we're lucky enough to have her back as a guest blogger today.

Take it away, Kim.

Have you been tuckerized? If not, it’s time you found a way to make it happen.
A few of you may be scratching your heads, thinking that I have imbibed too much alcohol with my friends, the Drunk Writers. But, alas, this is not the case…really!

Let me tell you my story. My husband is a big fan of speculative fiction. When the World SF convention was in Toronto, he came home with a big smile on his face, telling me he bought me a present—then the kicker—I don’t get to find out what it is until next year. Okay, you don’t do that to little Miss Curiosity. I quizzed him endlessly, but to no avail. He’s a trial lawyer…nothing penetrates his armour!

The year goes by and I eventually forget about the present (I’m sure it was lingering in my subconscious.) One weekend, while up north at my parent’s cottage, he hands me a fantasy novel and recommends I read it. I’m like…wait a minute…I’m Ms. Suspense! But, being the trusting wife, I dig into the novel, Laura Anne Gilman’s STAYING DEAD. I enjoyed it, found the pacing strong, the characters fascinating. Then…in comes an older woman, an interesting villain…and her name is KimAnn Howe! I start laughing and realize what he has done. During an auction to support medical benefits for writers, my husband bought me a Tuckerism.

A "tuckerism" is the use of a friend's name as a character, place, equipment name, or the like in a story. The term is derived from the actions of Wilson "Bob" Tucker, who initiated this practice in SF books. For example, some of the Star Trek™ novels from Pocket Books are alleged to have names of the author's friends for minor characters.

I was so touched by his gesture. And this character—KimAnn Howe—who was supposed to show up in just one novel has turned into a strong presence in five novels! Okay, does that mean technically I’m multi-published?

Would you like to be a character in a novel? To celebrate making the final four of the American Title competition, I’m running a “Kill Me Off” contest. After voting for ONE SHOT, TWO KILLS, just send me an e-mail via my website with the phrase “Kill Me Off” and your name. The lucky (???) winner will have his/her namesake suffer an untimely demise in my next novel. And, no, you cannot nominate your boss or mother-in-law! Yes, I know you won’t last five novels, but I promise to make “your death” memorable!

Here’s to Tuckerisms!


Monday, January 22, 2007

Publishing Outside the Mainstream

I am currently trying to organize a Valentine's Day signing for three Canadian Authors at a local Coles store that has proven to be incredibly romance friendly and the manager puts on a great signing. Finding romance friendly bookstores in Toronto has been a challenge. Like in the states we have lost a lot of our small private bookstores to the big conglomerate - for good or bad - that's not the point of my post. (Though always a good topic of discussion -- all that selection, comfy chairs and Starbucks but no soul). One of the author's doing the signing (Talented Teresa Roblin - Hocus Pocus and Now You See It) is e-published with Cerridwin and her books are being published in hard copy. Books are in the warehouse ready to be sent but the distributor doesn't have an account with Coles/Chapters/Indigo. Other Canadian writers have complained to Ellora's Cave/Cerridwin, but still no account. Maybe distribution is better in the States -- but there's not much in Canada.

I think this problem is something that a lot of people don't consider when the sign the contract with an e-publisher. If you publish outside the mainstream it's harder to try and work within the mainstream. It sucks. But that's the way it is. And if having signings and walking into the big bookstore and seeing your book is a big might not happen.

I write for Harlequin and if I had a nickle for every time someone has come up to me two months after my books were in stores and said "I went yesterday to find your book but I couldn't find it" I would have more money than I earned from both my Flipsides. Harlequin novels are pulled off the shelves after a month -- that's the deal. It sucks. But that's the way it is. So, I have to say to all those well-meaning friend's and possible sales that they will have to get the book on Amazon but most of them don't which is why those Flipsides never made any money.

I am hoping that with some complaining my friend Teresa can get this changed so maybe she can join us for the next signing - but it's been a real eye-opening experience for me.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Slowly, slowly figuring it out

Molly posed a great question at the beginning of the week. What kind of a writer do we want to be?

Timely, as this was one of the subjects of a recent bout of drunk writer talk. Knowing what kind of a writer we want to be, doesn’t mean we have to tie ourselves down to a particular genre, but I think it might really help identify our strengths and find stories that play to those strengths.
Although we probably already do that already, without even thinking about it.

I want to write fast paced, tense, plot heavy books. I already try to do that, but recently I realized that more than anything I want to take my reader on a journey where I manage to surprise them more than once, reverse their expectations, and make them not want to put the book down.

I don’t think I’m ever going to be the kind of writer who brings a tear to a reader’s eye, and I’m OK with that. (The seven step program is working)

The TV equivalent of the books I want to write -well 24 and Battlestar come immediately to mind, mostly for their amazing plotting and their ability to constantly leave me guessing about what is happening. I aspire to that level of excellence, minus the gadgets.

It took me a while to figure all this out. I think I can say the same thing for Molly and Maureen. It took figuring out my voice and writing a few books, before I knew for sure what I was trying to do.

What does it mean going forward? I know the kind of books I want to write, and I think they play to my strengths as a writer, the stuff that comes easily. Well, along with that I have to acknowledge my weaknesses and continue to work on them.
I hate the small scenes, the emotional scenes, the scenes that add that wonderful relevance and sense of emotional connection that if done well, elevate a suspense novel to a really good suspense novel. They are hell for me to write. The scenes both Molly and Maureen seem to write effortlessly are the ones I struggle over.

The really great writers combine everything. Characters we can relate to, amazing plotting and those scenes that make you sigh and bring a tear to your eye.

So what kind of a writer do I want to be?

I want to be a constant work in progress. I want to know that while I do some things really well, that I’m getting better at the other things.

But I’m pretty sure I’m not along in wanting to be a better writer.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Wow. Molly can pick the tough topics. And she's thought about this a lot more than I have. Truth is, I'm not sure quite yet what kind of writer I want to be.

But this is well-timed. In a few weeks I'll be reaching, once again, that scary/exciting point--that point where I start a new project; therefore, new-project-thoughts and anxieties (not to mention project completion thoughts and anxieties) have been buzzing around in my head. Molly's what-kind-of-writer-do-you-want-to-be topic gets right to the heart of the issue...

Sadly, I don't have a fabulously well-thought-out answer, (and haven't picked my next project), but a few things I do know... (for today, anyway... not sure about tomorrow...)

I want to write books that are easy and fast and fun to read. By that I mean, I want my books to be about the story, about taking the reader on a journey with the characters--not about writing poetry or prose in a style that's complicated for complicated's sake. That said, I don't want to spoon feed readers. I don't want to over explain things. I don't want to insult my readers' intelligence. I want to write fast, fun reads for smart readers.

I want to write books about women going through change. Women who are forced to face something ugly about themselves and choose to change it. Almost all of my completed and in-progress projects have this underlying theme... and I think it's working for me.

I want to write books about real issues, plausible problems--in a larger-than-real-life kind of way. (It is fiction, after all.)

I want to write books that have unexpected twists--not in the big mystery/suspense/thriller kind of way, but in terms of unexpected details being revealed about a character or their past, or characters acting in unexpected ways. I don't want to be predictable or boring.

I want to write books that make readers smile. I'm not going for big belly laugh comedy. I just hope what my characters do, think and say, or how they do, think and say it, will get the occasional grin.

I want to write books that give readers an in depth look into the mind and life of another person--what they're thinking, how they sort through the problems their faced with. I'm analytical. Most of my characters are, too, and I like to show that side of them.

Wow. My answer isn't as clear or focused as Molly's, and I expect I've actually answered a slightly different question... I haven't fit myself into a "type" at all... So be it.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

What Kind of Writer Are You or How Rocky Balboa changed my life....

My husband, having watched all the Rocky's back to back on the Movie Network, was lobbying hard for us to go see Rocky Balboa. I of course didn't have much interest in this so I thought I would put a pin in his hopes by reading him some terrible reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. Well, to my suprise and my husband's delight -- the movie had a positive fresh rating. Really positive. So, I clicked on some of the reviews and almost all of them started with something like this -

I can't believe I'm saying this but it's good.

So, here I am, having spent one of my precious movie nights (just before Golden Globes too!!!) saying -- Rocky Balboa is actually really good. And more than that the Drunk Writers (actually just Maureen and Sinead) had been talking about what kind of writers are we? What are our strengths and how can we exploit them and how far can we take them? Excellent questions -- I'm telling you, I sit at these conversations and eat Sinead's fries, drink and wonder how I got so lucky.

But Rocky Balboa hammered it home for me -- the kind of writer I am. I am the HIGH NOTES writer -- which I'll explain in a second. Back to Rocky.

First of all let's remember how simple and brilliant the first one was. How sweet and endearing that character was right off the screen. That guy is back - in spades. He's a former superstar making the most of what he's left with. Adriane has died "of the woman cancer" and his son is trying hard to get out from under his father's shadow. He's come full circle -- regular joe, good guy, rusty charmer with a heart of gold, head of granite and he reaches just a little beyond what's in his reach. Rocky isn't saving the world from the russian's here.

Yes, the premise - that a computer program has pitted former heavy weight champs against the new one and the fact that Rocky wins lights a fire under the new champ and of course Rocky and it all leads to an exhibition in Los Vegas - yeah, totally far-fetched. IF YOU DON'T WATCH SPORT'S TV EVERY MORNING (which I do - thanks husband.) this is the sort of thing that sports commentators talk about all the time. So, it works and it doesn't. But what it does do storytelling wise is create a nice subplot for the current champ - a guy whose got everything but respect. But, you ask, how does fighting a 60 year old former boxer earn him respect? Well, Stallone looks amazing. He looks bigger and tougher and fitter than the champ - that's how. And of course the commentators going on and on about all his heart and his will to fight, makes the audience believe it too.

And the scene that earned Stallone the Oscar the first time around - the "I just want to go the distance. No one's ever gone the distance with Creed and that's what I want to do - I know I can't win - but I don't want to be a bum" speech - the motivation speech, the scene that has to make us as the audience believe in everything he does, he pulls off again in Rocky Balboa.

He tells Pauly he's "got something, a monster, something. Something in the basement" and he's crying a man cry a real cry, snorting and snot and confused and hurt and wounded and it's so BELIEVABLE. We know it's grief over the love of his life dying, his son not having much to do with him, the plush red velvet of his former life is growing thin and shiny and he wants to remember what glory felt like. Man, I've got chills thinking about it right now. He shows it, he doesn't tell it and it's great. That scene takes the audience a long way in understanding why he's doing this stupid thing.

Then, of course, the Rocky machine kicks in and it's the music and the working out montage and he's drinking raw eggs and climbing those famous steps - not as fast, not as seriously, but he's doing it and by that time, my heart is hammering and I might have been crying a little bit and then it hit me.

He's hitting the high notes. He's hitting the high notes, the big scenes so well, with such charm and precision with just enough sense of humor and just enough real emotion that I don't care that it's all a little ridiculous. That there was some weird scene with a kid and a dog and several other scenes that didn't seem to go where they needed. Some really cardboard characterization and dialogue. But, none of it mattered once he was crying and the music started - I was in.

That's the kind of writer I am. Obviously without all the success of Stallone. But it's the kind of writer I am trying to be.

I started thinking about what other kind of writers are out there and here are a few that I think are sort of valid.

Those writers that create the question "what's going to happen next" with extremely tight plots. We forget weak characters, or total lack of description because we can't turn the pages fast enough. The Poison Study and The DiVinci Code worked like that for me.

Other writers it doesn't matter what they write because thier voice is so very compelling. PT Anderson the film maker - he's that way for me. Emily Giffen, Kinsella, Alice Hoffman for sure.

I'm sure there are more, but I'm sober and tired and actually pretty pleased with having answered this question for myself - it stops me from having to wonder what do I do after Superromance? I keep doing what I'm doing in bigger and better ways, because I just want to go the distance. I don't want to be a bum.
Yo! Adriene!!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Maureen's best of 2006

Okay, I'm going to be pretty loose with the whole 2006 thing. I’ve decided to interpret 2006 as things I discovered, explored and/or came to love in 2006.

I've also decided to avoid discussing books for the most part. Partly, because, like my fellow DW's, I don't have a hugely long list of books I absolutely loved this year. And second, because, now that I know so many writers, if I start to list books I really liked, many of which were written by writers I know, I'll inevitably forget to mention someone’s book, and don't really want to do that.... (I also think writing has ruined reading for me in many ways…)

That said, like Sinead, I feel like I'm learning the most about writing these days from TV. Yes. TV. (And, I also have enjoyed some TV shows that have taught me nothing except that I have very low standards. ANTM, CNTM, Rock Star, So You Think You Can Dance… I rest my very sad case.)

Enough boring introductions: Here are the big things I loved/learned from in 2006. (And there will be some repeats from earlier in the week, because, well, Sinead, Molly and I talk to each other, occasionally.)

#1. The first season of Grey's Anatomy.

I didn't discover this show until the second season (another medical drama? really?) and purchased the first season on DVD at some point during 2006, after seeing the entire second season.) So, I knew a lot of spoilers, like McDreamy being married, before I ever saw any of this first season. Still.... I think the first season (as short as it was) was excellent storytelling. Great character development. Slow introduction of back story. Fabulous. Rent or buy it, even it you've already seen it.

#2. The pilot episode of Nip/Tuck.

Okay, this is from 2003 or something, not 2006... But I just saw it. I'd heard this show was well reviewed, so purchased the first season DVD ages ago, but never watched it. I saw a few later episodes as they aired on TV and thought it was edgy and interesting... but didn't really get why it was such a big deal. Then.... after it sat on a bookshelf for about 3 years, I watched the pilot episode.
Wow. How can you not love a show that does characterization by sex scene? During the pilot, in less than a minute, with two alternating scenes: one with a man snorting coke off of and slapping a hot chick's ass; and one with a man barely moving and thinking about work while he fucks his wife....
We learn everything important we needed to know about the two lead characters.
And, how could you not love the pilot episode of a show where a 16-year-old boy tries to circumcise himself with cuticle scissors, and the "good doctor" disposes of a patient—killed by a drug dealer during a lipo operation where the hose got loose and sprayed everyone with fat—by wrapping him in hams and dumping him in a swamp for the gators. LOVE IT.

#3. Battlestar Galactica

First, not from 2006. Sorry. Second. Sinead has already talked about this. Sorry again. Third, you should know I’m not a sci-fi fan. Just not my thing per se. But I spent way too much of the past week watching the first season of this show. WOW. WOW. (One wow not enough.)
Amazing character development. Lots of unexpected gender reversed characterization. Tons of complexity and unanswered questions. Heaps of theological connections and references. WOW.
I’ve watched the entire first season. (May need to storm Sinead’s house to get second season DVD’s tomorrow morning. Early.)
After watching the first season, I’m not sure what’s going on, but I love it. Is it in the future? The past? Are the humans in the show our ancestors? Our descendents? Or are we the descendents of the cylons? Or their ancestors?
Have no idea, but I’m fascinated. Need more. Now.

And a link to my 'learned nothing but I have low standards" list... Tricha Helfer, who plays Number Six on BSG, is the Tyra Banks of Canada's Next Top Model. (And 80% of the cast of BSG is Canadian. I like that.)

#4. Firefly

Again, Sinead takes credit for my discovery of this show. (I really should reject my sci-fi negative bias.) I have the same kind of characterization and story development accolades as I had for BSG, but Firefly is, in addition, so much fun. It’s not as complex as BSG, but I smiled through most of Firefly. That’s worth a lot. And it was clever writing. Wish it had lasted more than one season.

#5. Dexter

Okay, this list isn’t in merit order. This series—actually from 2006—was amazing. Both Molly and Sinead have said a lot about this show, already… My only thing to add is that I love that little smile he gives when he kills the mosquito during the opening credits. Says everything we need to know about him. He loves blood. He loves to kill.
Oh! And I love his sister’s character. Perfect example of using a secondary character to contrast the protagonist. Dexter has everything buried a mile deep, while his sister, Deb, is like a puppy. Every emotion she has is exaggerated and worn like neon on her sleeve.
Wow. I said I wasn’t going to talk about Dexter. Oops.

More on TV…. I still like Lost and Prison Break, in spite of their annoying aspects…. And I also love Entourage and can’t believe Huff was cancelled…. And I’m glad Rome is starting up again….

Enough TV.


I’ve blogged about movies on my personal blog…. But here is a partial list of some of the movies I loved in 2006.

Pan’s Labyrinth
The Last King of Scotland
Little Miss Sunshine
Stranger Than Fiction
Notes on a Scandal

Other interesting ones I think were passed over by the media, the public….

Trust The Man
The Last Kiss
Haven (I saw at 2005 festival)
Harsh Times (I saw at 2005 festival)
For Your Consideration
10 Items or Less (not yet released)
Bella (not yet released)

Other films I saw at either the 2005 or 2006 festival that have yet to be released, but I thought were interesting or great:

Sorry, Haters
Breaking and Entering
Amazing Grace (see this film. Will be released in Feb/07, I think)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

more Best and Worst

So tough to narrow things down, but I’m definitely going to try.

I’m starting with TV, because that’s what I’ve enjoyed the most this year, shows that have entertained me, thrilled me and made me really think of what great writing is about.

1) First and foremost, and yes, Molly did see this coming. Battlestar Galactica. Man, a lot of other, smarter people started watching this much earlier, but after coming into it late, I’ve watched 2 ½ seasons in less than two months and all I can say is Wow!
The writing, the characters, the way they let all the characters at one time or another be petty, mean, ugly in thought and form, and still really appealing. It helps to have an ensemble cast, which this show is, so we don’t spend all our time with the same character, but they all have unexpected depths.
My two favourite things this show does is reverse gender expectations. They do this brilliantly. And they give us an initial impression of a character and over time, reverse it. Perfect example, and without giving anything away, the President and Adama.
I could gush about this show for months, but don’t let that it’s Sci fi stop you from watching. It’s so much more than that.

2) Dexter, this came in a close second. Love, love this show. Great writing and Michael C. Hall’s amazing characterization of a man who in anyone else’s hands could be unloveable.

Worst: This is a tough one. Lost has really disappointed me and I’ve given up on it for good. House, which I used to love has just felt tedious this season. The cop story line has just annoyed me, homoeroticism or not, and compared with the other shows I’m watching, this show has gotten boring.

1) Casino Royale – Loved it, Daniel Craig, nothing else needs to be said about the wonders of that man. The writing was great, the love interest made sense. It was, for me, a thrill from start to finish.
2) The Departed – Loved this, the tension, the unpredictability and the amazing acting.

Worst: So many dull movies this year. Superman returns, Pirates of the Caribbean, and so many movies I couldn’t drum up enough enthusiasm to see. Maureen will do a much better job at this, as she sees so many more than I do.

Books: Tough one for me as well.
Best: Poison study, for sheer entertainment value, loved the first two of the Dark Queen series by Susan Carroll, The Journal of Mortifying moments, by Robyn Harding. The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella. All entertaining, well written books.

Worst, again I agree with Molly on the last of the Dark Queen series, it seemed really dull compared to the first two. Any of the latest books by Laurell K. Hamilton. I used to love the Anita Blake series, was seriously addicted until the series fell off the rails in book 11 and never recovered.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Drumroll....The Best (and not so best) of 2006!!!

This is really only going to be a jumping off spot for the rest of the week , I'm sure. There's no way I will have remembered all the things I loved or hated this year and will be needing my fellow drunk writers to remind me.
But here's a starter list

BEST TV of 2006
Well, I think the easy answer there is Dexter. (Everyone get ready for Sinead's Battlestar Gallactica rampage.) I think in terms of gripping entertainment, interesting and brave storytelling and fabulous across the board acting the BEST award has to go to Dexter.

Followed closely by Friday Night Lights (I will spare you from more declarations of love and will just say last week I cried - like a baby), The Office (so much sweeter and earnest than the English version a little less mean, but just as funny) and House (it was falling apart for me and then I saw the season opener for the first time and man oh man I buy the homoerotic antagonism between House and the David Morse character). And of course - So You Think You Can Dance

Best Television watched on DVD - Firefly! Damn you the non-believers that cancelled that show.

Most Disappointing -- Prison Break (with a few redeeming moments) and Lost -- what in the world is going on?

Movies 2006 - this is where I am going to fall apart I can't remember anything from ten minutes ago much less my summer of Movies for Mommies. Sinead, Maureen what was good? The Departed? Borat? Lady in the Water? I really really liked Shut Up and Sing. Rocky Balboa!!!! (more about that next week)

Disappointing - Lady In The Water -- it was good but it wasn't great.

Books! Best of the Year for me Hands Down A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel. Followed by The Dark Queen and The Courtesan by Susan Carroll. I am starting Saving Grace by Deborah Smith and I can already tell it's on my list. And I really liked a Million Little Pieces - fiction or non-fiction the scandal just made it better. The Poision Study -- good read.

Most disappointing -- The Silver Rose or whatever the name of the third Susan Carroll book in the Dark Queen Series -- couldn't even get through the first third. Ugh.

Most disappointing but I finished it and can't stop thinking about it and will probably re-read it - The Anne Stuart Cold As Ice. Want to hate it...but I can't.

The hype about the book that ruined the book for me -- Something Borrowed. It's good - but my god! I had to listen to a lot of theorizing on that thing.

This should be a fun discussion....

Friday, January 05, 2007

Even more resolutions

I’ve been looking over Molly and Maureen’s posts and wondering what the hell can I add to this.
Discipline has come up a lot and it’s a huge topic for me. I spend far, far too much time on the internet, checking blogs, stupid entertainment websites and in general, wasting time.
I’m going to try and cut that in half. Not cut it out completely. I’m not ready to go cold turkey, but half I think I can manage.
Over the past few months I’ve thought a lot about what I can control and where I want to take my books. This is the core of my writing resolutions.

1) Write without thinking of anyone but me. Shut the door, close the blinds, get lost in my head kind of writing. Give license to every crazy, bizarre plot point that comes to mind and try them. If they suck, I’ll fix them later. But sometimes those are the ideas that make a book different, unexpected, and enthralling.

2) Screw trends. They don’t work for me and never have. I’m not going to up the sex scenes to make the book erotic because erotic sells well. I just don’t do that well. I’m not going to add a paranormal element because those are flying off the shelves. At all times, I’m going to try and serve the story.

3) I too am going to learn about commas, and dangling participles(whatever the hell they are) and the other nuts and bolts of my craft that I have ignored for too long, because, I am lazy.. and should have improved my grammar skills a long time ago.

4) I am going to work harder at getting my books on the market. I have a tendency of finishing a book and letting it sit in a drawer. No longer. Everything I finish gets sent out to agents and editors.

5) Finish at least two more books this year. This could be a tough one, as time might be in short supply, but sometimes writing these things down helps me accomplish them.

6) Find great entertainment. Be it books, TV, and movies, well written anything makes me think, gives me great ideas for myself and challenges me to be smarter and sharper. This is never a waste of time, and we need this to recharge our batteries. That said, HGTV is not great entertainment. I need to watch fewer cooking shows. Especially considering I’m a crappy cook.

That’s it for me. Enough resolutions to keep me busy for the next year. Did we miss any important resolutions this past year?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

I Resolve...

I've never been big on New Year's Resolutions -- making or keeping -- but was inspired by Molly's great list and decided writing my own down might be a good idea.

First, I did suggest to our critique group at one point last year, that we shouldn't make things outside our control "goals" or "resolutions". Not sure I still 100% agree with myself, or rather, I feel like my suggestion about only setting controllable goals needs clarification.

Debbie Macomber does this great talk on setting big goals. She suggests writing them down on an index card, putting them in a drawer and then revisiting them annually, or whatever, to see which, if any, you've met. I do believe in this kind of goal setting (for the same reasons I like reading my horoscope) and that index card (or scrap of paper) is the place I put the things I can't control.

The theory/idea of those "big goal" lists is that if you write them down, admit they're what you want, the goals becomes real, more attainable and you become more committed to attaining them. Once written down, the list of goals seeps into your subconscious, affects everything you do, and maybe, just maybe, there's some magic involved, too. I do have an index card list. The goals are big and hairy and audacious and totally outside my direct control.

Getting an agent was on my list last year and I did that. But so was getting my first contract and I didn't get that.

So, back to the point I was making about being able to control your resolutions. What I meant was you can't beat yourself up, or feel like a failure or a slacker, for not acheiving something you can't control, like finalling in a particular contest or getting a particular book contract or hitting a bestseller list.

And back to resolutions... ("Finally!" the reader says.)

1. Although I desperately want 2007 to be the year I get my first book contract, I won't make that a resolution. (see above) Rather, copying from Molly's list, I resolve to get (gasp) two more publishable books into my agent's hands this year, so that the probability of getting what I really want, (a contract) but can't control, will go up.

2. I resolve to treat myself better this year. To curb the self destructive things I do -- the things which may seem hedonistic, but are really more like masochism, perpetuating my subconscious self's idea that I'm not worthy. (And no, Molly, I'm won't necessarily start refusing that last drink. I mean bigger things than that.)

3. I resolve to start each day with writing. Not e-mail. Not reading blogs. Not playing computer games or otherwise wasting time. I used to tell myself that it was okay to do e-mail etc. while having my morning porridge and coffee... But lately, the morning coffee e-mails stretch into the afternoon and when I stop to write (if I do) I'm already sick of sitting at the computer, or I'm in this weird ADD head space, where I can't concentrate on my work for more than five minutes at a time. I always get more done on the days I start out writing. (Julia Cameron is smart.)

4. I resolve to plan/plot my next book more than I did the one I'm currently revising. Revising this book is making me a little crazy and I usually love this part. I still don't know exactly where I fall on the plot/pants spectrum... But I do know, the more I learn about storytelling and pacing and tension, the more I want to have at least some idea for where a scene's going before I sit down to write it -- even if that scene wanders off in an even more interesting direction once I do write it.

So, those are my resolutions....
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...